Religion and the Federal Government, Part 1 - Religion …

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There is no honest line of argument from what the Bible says to substantive conclusions about the size of the United States government, the need for a free enterprise system, the right to bear arms or the proper interpretation of the Constitution. Family Leader (and many other religious groups with a conservative political agenda) are disguising partisan political positions as religious convictions. This cripples efforts to have meaningful discussions about their political views.

Proponents of conservative views that require sober argument from empirical facts and generally accepted principles, instead merely assert them with religious fervor. Opponents are understandably irritated by the irrationality of claims that distinctively modern questions about capitalist economics and democratic government were answered in the Bible 2000 years ahead of time. Eschewing this sort of appeal to religious considerations would be a good start toward reducing the acrimony and frustration of our political debates.

It is generally based on the principle of . This concept is found in court interpretations of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which requires governments and government agencies to separate themselves from religion. Since public schools are an arm of government, the concept of such schools being "religion-free zones" seems reasonable to many people -- even school officials.

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The one place where prayer is not normally permitted is in the classroom itself when a class is in session. That would violate the principle of . The separation principle is extended to public schools as an arm of the government. As interpreted by the courts, the Constitution's First Amendment requires that public school teachers and principals to be religiously neutral. On the other hand, the study of prayers from various faith groups and religions can form part of classes which deal with comparative religion.

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This ruling gave further clarification to legislators and public school systems. It established what has since been called the "Lemon test," after the name of the lead plaintiff. It established a three prong test to determine the constitutionality of any legislation involving religion:

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